COLUMBIA — He was the first one in the tunnel, his team still celebrating, the fans still cheering.
No. 22-ranked Missouri had just won 71-65 over South Carolina, a game that came down to the final minute.
“Way to go Frank,” a fan screamed as he walked on by.
He didn’t look up.
Frank Haith walked straight ahead, no suit jacket, no tie, no smile.
The pressroom was crowded, more than usual. Reporters filled the seats and lined the walls, notepads, computers, phones and recorders all prepared.
There was no wondering about the big turnout. Monday, CBS Sports.com reported, using an unnamed source, that the NCAA allegations surrounding the University of Miami could be released as early as this week. The report detailed several charges against Missouri’s head coach.
Haith walked in, took his glasses off and ran his hand over his face. Maybe it was the game, maybe it was the recent report, or maybe it was both. Haith looked tired.
The report claimed that he would be charged by the NCAA with unethical conduct and failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance when he was coach at Miami. It’s an investigation that has taken over a year and a half, stemming from his alleged role in the debacle surrounding former Miami booster and currently incarcerated Nevin Shapiro.
Haith pulled the microphone close and gripped the base. He knew why there were more reporters. He knew he would have to talk, say something.
For the first six questions, Haith was asked about his team's performance in the win. He looked relieved and relaxed talking about Earnest Ross, about Alex Oriakhi, about the crowd.
But then the seventh question came, and Haith wasn't surprised. He looked eager to get it over with.
“Here’s what I want to say about that,” he started. “I was going to address it.”
He took a deep breath and tried, but failed, to smile.
“It is tough,” he said. “It’s been a tough 20, 18, 19 months, but it’s a blessing that it is coming close to the end. And that’s the way I feel personally. Obviously, I can’t say a whole lot about what’s going on, because, contrary to what’s been reported, there’s been no letter written to Frank Haith, and my attorneys never received a letter of any allegations. So until that happens, then I can respond.”
“As of right now, there’s nothing our way,” he said. “But I do feel and know that we are getting close to the end, and that’s what’s exciting to me.”
Back in August 2011 according to a Yahoo! Sports report, Shapiro claimed that Haith had knowledge of a $10,000 payment Shapiro made to one of Haith’s assistants, who then used that money to lure then basketball recruit DeQuan Jones.
According to the CBS report, the NCAA was unable to prove this claim, but that Haith will still be charged with “unethical conduct because the NCAA did not believe his story that payments to his assistants intended for camp money did not wind up going to repay Shapiro.”
The report also alleges that Haith will be charged with failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance, because of “impermissible airline travel that was given to the family of two (Miami) players from a member of his staff,” and for allowing interactions between Shapiro and players while on college visits.
Once Haith receives notice from the NCAA, he will have 90 days to respond in writing, which will then eventually lead to a hearing.
How athletic director Mike Alden or MU will respond during this process remains to be seen.
Following his statement, Haith looked around the pressroom, ready to leave.
The press conference was abruptly coming to an end. He started to move, but a reporter sneaked a question by, a question that he wanted to answer.
Not about the allegations, the report, or his feelings.
The eighth and final question was about Missouri’s next game against Vanderbilt.